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SSudan Activists Advocate for Policies to Curb Plastic Waste

FILE-Remnants of the previous crop are burning in a village near Dharamshala, India, Monday, June 5, 2023. (AP Photo/Ashwini Bhatia)

JUBA — Some South Sudanese environmental activists have called on the government to formulate policies and laws for proper management of plastic wastes across the country's ten stateS and three administrative areas.

The activists say there is rampant disposal of plastic materials in South Sudan's capital, Juba, and other towns posing risks to land fertility.

Gizam Moses, an environmental activist with the non-profit Civil Society Coalition on Natural Resources in South Sudan, said there is no regulation guiding the collection, recycling or total banning of single use plastic materials in the country.

He said plastic wastes "are dangerous to an extent that they don’t decompose quickly," taking upwards of 400 years depending on the plastic product.

The United Nations says the world is flooded by plastics and more than 400 million tons of plastic is produced every year, half of which is designed to be used only once.

Moses said the waste remains a threat to soil fertility and marine life, also blocking drainage lines and river ways.

Joseph Africano Bartel, the undersecretary in South Sudan's Ministry of Environment, said plastic waste is an endemic, adding that improper waste management is a huge problem in the East African nation.

Bartel told VOA his ministry is currently working on an environmental law that will regulate and safeguard ecosystem in South Sudan, that will be submitted to the Ministry of Justice, Council of Ministers and parliament.

Plastic Pollution

This year's United Nations World Environment Day, commemorated June 5, was hosted in Cote d’Ivoire under the theme "Beat Plastic Pollution."

The day called on governments, businesses and people to accelerate action to tackle waste pollution and transition to a circular economies that incentives the reusing of products.

Godi Swalleh Safi, an environmental activist with the food security advocacy non-profit HF-Africa, said with tones of plastic waste dumped across Juba, the organization is working on innovative solutions to address the issue.

He said HF-Africa is innovating the recycling of plastics, looking to turn non-degradable plastic waste into items such as interlock bricks, roofing tiles and pavers for designing compounds.

The U.N. estimated 19 to 23 million tons of plastic wastes end up in lakes, rivers and seas, adding that micro plastics find their way into the food, water and the air that humans eat, drink and breath, which is hazardous to their health.